A snack before bed can help kids sleep and round out the day’s nutrition — or it can keep them awake and lead to unhealthy eating habits. It all depends what that bedtime snack is.
Sleep on an empty stomach
You may have heard that it’s best to go to sleep on an empty stomach. Th idea here is that digesting food can take energy away from the body’s restorative processes or keep you from sleeping well. Plus, waking up hungry encourages you to eat a healthy breakfast in the morning. There is also some evidence that late-night noshing is associated with weight gain.
But being hungry can keep you awake, and sleeping on an empty stomach can lead to low blood sugar in the morning. That can make sugary cereals or doughnuts appealing and set you off on a roller coaster of blood sugar spikes and crashes.
Kids may need to eat more often than adults, too. If dinner is at 5:00 and bedtime at 8:00, your child probably needs a bedtime snack.
Spoiling dinner…or breakfast?
If dinner is a healthy, balanced meal with lean protein and plenty of vegetables, but bedtime snack is ice cream and cookies, some children may toy with their dinners to save room for that bedtime snack.
Feasting on pizza or chips and dip right before bed can lead to an upset stomach and make breakfast less appealing.
Instead, plan a snack that is a good mix of carbohydrates and protein, without too much sugar.
Good bedtime snack choices
These snacks hit the spot without being too exciting. A balance of carbs and protein mean they’ll be digested more slowly than a cookie.
- Apple slices with peanut butter or almond butter
- Whole grain crackers with cheese
- Yogurt with berries (watch the sugar)
- Hummus and carrots
- Oatmeal with nuts